St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester is testing a home ‘spit’ test for mums to be at risk of pre-eclampsia.
Pre-eclampsia is the most common of the serious complications of pregnancy. It is caused by a defect in the placenta, and in the early stages is symptom-less. Pre-eclampsia is currently only detectable by regular antenatal checks on the mother’s blood pressure and urine.
In its widest forms, pre-eclampsia affects about one in 10 pregnancies overall and one in 50 pregnancies severely. Pre-eclampsia can be very serious and is still responsible for the deaths of between three and five women a year as well as between 500 and 600 babies. It is potentially life-threatening to mother and baby if allowed to develop and progress undetected.
1000 women in Chichester will try the test that reads saliva for tell-tale markers of impending kidney problems that could indicate pre-eclampsia. The Chemistry and Industry reports that the test is expected to be more reliable than traditional blood pressure and urine checks.
The aim is to develop a colour-coded ‘traffic light’ detection kit for expectant mothers to use at home. A red light would indicate that high levels of urate had been found in the saliva and so the pregnant woman would need to contact her GP for further tests.
Brian Owen Smith, the developer of the test said that he hopes it will add to the existing checks for pre-eclampsia.
The results from the hospital are expected early next year.